There are times when Kurtis Blow The Breaks might just be my favourite ever rap track, my favourite single and my favourite ever record with a yellow cover. Tonight is one of those times.
Where can one start with anything this great? Okay lets hit up the music first which was all played and not a bastardized sample of the Doobie Brothers, as has been rumoured. It’s funky, percussive and very fresh sounding, I really love the drums which give the whole thing a bit of a disco and Salsoul flavour; not to mention some great keys later on in the track.
In awesome the-medium-is-the-message style delivery there are no less than 6 separate break down sections in The Breaks; how incredible is that? as a dancey man, were I ever at anywhere cool enough to play this, I would have 6 separate opportunities to both enchant the opposite sex and to intimidate potential love rivals. True story.
Kurtis’ lyrics are brilliant, exactly clever enough and stupid enough to hit the bullseye. Who knew you could have so much fun with all the meanings of the word ‘breaks’? Kurtis, that’s who. Overall he mentions ‘breaks’ or derivations thereof no less than 84 times in seven-and-a-half minutes, without ever hitting the brakes.
The Breaks is also a very funny record too and that’s why I think I hold it so dear. I’ve always been with Zappa on the whole ‘does music belong in humour’ thang.
You say last week you met the perfect guy (That's the breaks, that's the breaks) And he promised you the stars in the sky He said his Cadilac was gold But he didn't say it was ten years old He took you out to the Red Coach grill But he forgot the cash and you paid the bill And he told you the story of his life But he forgot the part about his wife!
Overall there is just something tremendously positive and endearingly life-affirming about The Breaks. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like a good gothic wallow and a hardcore raging shouty-shout-shout as much as, or even more, than the next person but music like this makes me happy to be alive. Listening to it is like receiving a postcard from a happier, simpler, more brightly coloured time than ours.
The B-side is an instrumental version of The Breaks. My son and I, he very reluctantly, me very enthusiastically just had a go at rapping it out. I think I was quite brilliant at it, he needs to work on his delivery. It is well worth a listen because you can really appreciate just how great the backing track is. You get the impression Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers would have been proud to have claimed this one, I can think of no higher praise.
Not bad for another record I liberated from my dad’s shed. In his defence, someone gave it to him and he’s not very fussed on rap.
The Breaks is a classic single and all. Now if you were looking for additional reasons to love it let’s face it nobody rocks a hounds tooth jacket as well as Kurtis does on the cover. Now if he was only wearing matching trousers too … that’s the breeks, that’s the breeks …
932 (Break) Down.